Your ovaries are two almond-shaped organs that sit on either side of your uterus. The ovaries are responsible for your eggs’ development each month and then their release during ovulation. Small fluid-filled sacs can form on your ovaries; these are ovarian cysts.
In most cases, ovarian cysts are nothing to be concerned about. But if you experience symptoms of a cyst or it becomes exceptionally large, you may need medical intervention. Here’s what we at Serrano Ob/Gyn Associates think you should know about ovarian cysts.
Ovarian cysts form with your monthly cycle. Each month, your ovaries release an egg that’s encased in a fluid-filled space called a follicle. When the egg is released, your body typically absorbs that follicle. But in the case of ovarian cysts, the follicle may not have released the egg, so it grows larger and develops into a cyst. You may also develop a cyst after the follicle releases the egg — known as a follicular cyst.
You may also develop a dermoid cyst, which forms when the cells in your ovary start dividing even though the egg hasn’t been fertilized. These dermoid cysts are rare, but contains the genetic material for a fetus. They can grow large — up to 4 inches — and usually need to be surgically removed.
Symptoms of a cyst
In the vast majority of cases, you won’t even know you have an ovarian cyst, and it disappears on its own. These harmless cysts are just 1-2 millimeters in diameter.
Larger cysts may be identified during a regular pelvic exam. They may show up during an ultrasound scheduled for another diagnostic reason too, such as to rule out fibroids or endometriosis.
You may also come to our office with symptoms that suggest a cyst. These symptoms include pelvic pain or unusual uterine bleeding.
Serious cyst concerns
If you have pelvic pain with fever, nausea, and vomiting, it could be a sign you have an infection associated with the cyst. An infection deserves immediate medical attention. Cysts can also rupture or twist — a condition called torsion. This may cause an infection, plus cut off blood supply to your ovaries, which may result in serious complications.
You need immediate medical attention if you experience sudden pain in your lower abdomen along with nausea.
Solutions for cysts
If you have small cysts that cause no pain, you probably don’t need treatment. But if you have large cysts or those that appear to be at risk of causing torsion, you may need surgery. This surgery is usually done laparoscopically, which involves small incisions and a relatively short recovery time.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
In some cases, ovarian cysts are a symptom of a hormonal condition known as PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome. Usually, the cysts come with other symptoms, such as infertility, irregular periods, increased body hair, and weight gain. The cysts don’t need to be removed via surgery, but they can help the doctors here at Serrano Ob/Gyn Associates diagnose PCOS.
If you have unusual pelvic pain or irregular bleeding, make an appointment for an evaluation at our convenient location in San Antonio, Texas. We compassionately consider all potential causes, including ovarian cysts, and provide appropriate treatment.